Toast Remarks by His Excellency President JG Zuma, at the State Banquet hosted in his honour by the His Majesty, King Letsie III of the Kingdom of Lesotho, on the occasion of the State Visit to the Kingdom of Lesotho, Maseru, 12 August 2010
Your Majesty, King Letsie III;
Her Majesty, the Queen,
The Right Honourable Prime Minister Phakalitha Mosisili and the First Lady,
Honourable Ministers and Deputy Ministers,
Your Excellencies, Ambassadors and High Commissioners,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
On behalf of my wife and my entire delegation, I wish to thank you, Your Majesty for your kind words of welcome.
May I also, through His Majesty, express our sincere gratitude to the Government and the people of the Kingdom of Lesotho for the hospitality that has been extended to us since our arrival.
Your Majesty, the warm welcome and the hospitality has reminded us of our history and the ties between the two countries and peoples.
We are one people. We share the same history. We share the same culture and ancestry. We speak the same languages and therefore our future is certainly intertwined.
The hospitality reminds us that not so long ago, this beautiful Kingdom and its people gallantly welcomed and housed many freedom fighters from South Africa.
The support that the Basotho people gave us in the fight against apartheid is immeasurable. As a consequence, Lesotho suffered heavily because of her principled stand against the evil apartheid system.
We all remember vividly, the horrific 1982 Maseru massacre in which Basotho nationals and South African freedom fighters and their families were butchered in cold blood by the apartheid forces.
After the massacre, ANC President OR Tambo pledged the commitment of the African National Congress to support the Kingdom of Lesotho in her struggle to consolidate her independence and defend her sovereignty and territorial integrity.
True to the commitment that President OR Tambo spoke about twenty eight years ago, the democratic South Africa and Lesotho signed in 2001 and renewed in 2006, the Joint Bilateral Commission for Cooperation.
Its main objective is that we work together so that we are able to assist Lesotho to evolve away from the current Least Developed Country status towards a developing country status.
Working together, we should be able to achieve this stated objective.
Our two countries have over the years signed bilateral agreements in various fields. We have to ensure steady implementation of these agreements for the benefit of our peoples.
South Africa is committed to walking side by side with Lesotho in the identification and implementation of various projects, which have the potential to provide Lesotho with a solid foundation for growth and development.
We are already working on various projects. These include the Lesotho Highlands Water Project, the Geo-chemical Mapping Project, the Hydrological Project and the Sani Pass Project.
We trust that these projects will bring about economic development, create employment as well as investment opportunities in Lesotho.
In support of these projects, our Government made one hundred million rand available during the 2009-2010 financial year.
Of this amount, sixty million rand went to the Metolong Dam project while forty million rands was in support of the construction of the Sani Pass to Mokhotlong access road.
In our discussions today with The Right Honourable Prime Minister, we reflected on these projects and we are happy with the progress achieved thus far.
Exciting is the progress made in the area of tourism. It is clear to all of us that there is a great potential in the tourism sector.
Also exciting of course are the all important Highlands Water Projects both Phase 1 and Phase 2.
These projects present incredible potential for the creation of an industrial base in Lesotho.
In this regard, we have directed the relevant Ministers to ensure the full implementation of all identified projects.
These projects serve as a clear demonstration of the progress we have made in establishing a firm base for the further deepening of our bilateral relations, representative of the warm feelings of friendship that our peoples share.
We have brought along a business delegation, so that they explore opportunities in this country, for the benefit of both economies.
In conclusion, may I take this opportunity to express our sincere appreciation to Your Majesty and the people of Lesotho for the support given to us during the hosting of the FIFA Soccer World Cup.
Your Majesty, we appreciate the fact that you responded to our invitation and attended the opening and closing ceremonies. We felt greatly honoured and humbled by this gesture of friendship and support.
The memory and experience of hosting the first World Cup on the African soil will never fade away.
In the same vein, the historic relations that so happily exist between our two countries and peoples will never fade away.
Once again Your Majesty, I would like to thank you and the Basotho people for the undivided support during the struggle for freedom.
For that, we will always be grateful to this beautiful country and many others who supported us.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Please rise and join me in a toast to the good health and prosperity of His Majesty, King Letsie III and to the everlasting and enduring friendship between the wonderful people of the Kingdom of Lesotho and the people of the Republic of South Africa. To friendship!
I thank you.